Willed Body Program

“He made a difference in someone’s life while he was alive, and now he will make a difference in many other horses’ lives by what he is teaching our future veterinarians.”


– Katherine Doer, a veterinary student at the UF College of Veterinary Medicine, speaking about the horse whose body she studied in her Large Animal Anatomy course

The University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine willed body program allows individuals facing possible euthanasia of their terminally ill horse, pony, or cow to donate the animal’s body to the vet school for use in teaching. Through this generous act, donors help advance the field of veterinary medicine and teaching the veterinarians of tomorrow.

In Large Animal Anatomy, first-year students build a foundation of knowledge about the structure and function of the body. Later courses – about disease processes, surgery, radiology, pain management, and more – all build on this foundation. And it’s in Large Animal Anatomy that, for many hours each day for over two months, students work with the donated cadavers.

Students deeply appreciate the contribution body donation makes to their education. “Knowing the loving history behind the donated cadavers made learning from them so much more meaningful,” says Doerr.

At the end of the course, each group of students honors the donated animal and the person who donated the animal’s body by sending a personalized card expressing their gratitude.

Some donors have reported that, in their time of grief, it was comforting to know that their animal was helping to advance veterinary medicine. The CVM also offers pet loss counseling through the Companions Program.

For several years, donation to the Willed Body Program has been offered to some clients at the UF Large Animal Hospital who were facing the unavoidable euthanasia of their equines. Recently, a grant allowed the CVM to expand the Willed Body Program. Now, people throughout Florida (including those who are not UF Large Animal Hospital clients) can donate their animals’ bodies.

The Willed Body Program resonates with the CVM’s reputation for being at the forefront of veterinary medicine and education. While several other veterinary schools have similar programs, the CVM is developing the concept by focusing on large animals and enlisting the help of referring equine veterinarians. Last year, the program was featured at the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges Educational Symposium in Washington, D.C.
If you would like to learn more about this program…

Please call the Willed Body Program Hotline program director, Dr. R.D. Johnson, at 352-294-4021 or email at rdjohnso@ufl.edu. In order to be donated to the Willed Body Program, animals must weigh less than 700 pounds and arrangements must be made in advance.